December 9, 2020: Before sunrise the Crescent is near the star Gamma Virginis while brilliant Venus is low in the southeast. In three mornings, a thin moon joins Venus before sunrise.
by Jeffrey L. Hunt
Chicago, Illinois: Sunrise, 7:07 a.m. CST; Sunset, 4:20 p.m. CST. Check local sources for sunrise and sunset times for your location.
Before sunrise the crescent moon is about halfway up in the sky in the south-southeastern sky. It is among the stars of Virgo, near Gamma Virginis (γ Vir on the chart). The moon is 33% illuminated. Tomorrow morning, the moon is near Spica.
Venus is lower in the southeastern sky among the stars of Libra.
On December 12, the thin crescent moon is above Venus. The pair should inspire photographers and artists.
Reflected sunlight from Earth’s features gently illuminates the night portion of the moon. This is known as earthshine.
The earthshine effect can be seen with a binocular or small telescope. Get ready for the scene that occurs in a few mornings to capture the scene in a creative way.
The photo above from earlier during 2020 displays the earthshine effect.
Detailed Note: One hour before sunrise, the moon (24.3d, 33%) is over halfway up in the sky in the south-southeast. It is 3.3° to the upper right of Gamma Virginis (γ Vir, m = 3.4). Venus is lower in the southeast, about 11° in altitude. It is 3.4° to the upper left of ι Lib.
Read more about the planets during December.
- 2023, October 15: Three Bright PlanetsOctober 15, 2023: Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise. Saturn is above the southeast horizon after sundown.
- 2023, October 14: Solar Eclipse, Morning PlanetsOctober 14, 2023: A solar eclipse is visible across the western hemisphere. Brilliant Venus and Jupiter are visible before sunrise.
- 2023, October 13: Moon’s Last Glimpse, Bright Morning PlanetsOctober 13, 2023: Before tomorrow’s eclipse, see a razor-thin moon before sunrise. Venus and Jupiter shine brightly during morning twilight.
- 2023, October 12: Bright Morning Planets Bookend Stellar SpectacularOctober 12, 2023: Before sunrise, brilliant Venus and Jupiter bracket the Milky Way’s bright Orion region.
- 2023, October 11: Morning Earthshine, LeoOctober 11, 2023: The morning’s thin lunar crescent displays earthshine as it appears near the constellation Leo.